The Wahine pull away from Arizona State to clinch the third seed for the MPSF tourney
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Apr 17, 2011
No. 3 USC had won.
No. 4 UCLA had won.
And No. 5 Hawaii knew it had to match what the two California schools had done earlier yesterday. There was pressure to win, not just because it was senior night, but because a victory over Arizona State would secure a third-place finish in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation water polo standings, the highest ever for the Rainbow Wahine program.
Hawaii did just that, turning back every challenge by the No. 11 Sun Devils for a 10-7 win at the Duke Kahanamoku Complex. The Wahine concluded the regular season 17-7 overall, 4-3 MPSF, and will be seeded third in the conference tournament at San Jose State and will open with the host Spartans.
Hawaii, UCLA and USC finished tied for third, but the Wahine had the tiebreaker on both the Bruins and Women of Troy. Led by junior Monika Eggens' four goals and another solid performance in goal by senior Serena Bredin, Hawaii got to enjoy the senior night festivities, which included the six seniors taking a final lap around the pool in inner tubes.
"I tried not to think about it being senior night, but it was hard not to with the atmosphere and the excitement," said Bredin, who finished with nine saves, five in the first period. "This was such an important game for us.
"It's exciting to be third; it makes it an easier route to the NCAAs. The goal is to go back (to the NCAA tournament) and to win it."
Hawaii last made the NCAA tournament in 2009, finishing fourth. With six seniors, and Eggens taking a year off to try to make the Canadian Olympic team, this might be the Wahine's best chance for a while.
If they can continue to play the way they did last night, the Wahine have a realistic shot.
"I thought we played well offensively tonight," Hawaii coach Michel Roy said. "It was a very meaningful game for us, to be third for the first time.
"Our goalie was great; we believe she is the best in the country. And Monika is the leading goal-scorer in the MPSF. We have a lot left to play, but I was very happy about tonight."
The Sun Devils (11-12, 0-7) opened the scoring on the first of Sarah Harris' two goals at the 5:43 mark. Eggens countered at 4:37 and Monique Wilson's goal at 2:09 gave the Wahine the lead for good.
Both teams wasted two power-play opportunities early. Hawaii finally converted at 1:18 on Eggens' second score.
ASU opened the second period when Lynlee Smith skipped it past Bredin at 4:29. Sophomore Amarens Genee scored twice in the final 2:17, including a backhanded throw with 13 seconds left that gave Hawaii a 5-2 margin.
The key to the contest came in the third after the Sun Devils had closed to 6-4. Bredin stuffed Mariam Salloum's penalty shot at the 5:54 mark and Eggens scored off a rebound at 5:08.
ASU closed to 8-6 late in the third but didn't score again in the period. Hawaii got two goals in the final period, on Kelly McKee's bullet from way out at 7:29 and Eggens' last from 3 meters out at 1:50.
ASU added a goal with 28 seconds left.
"I think every time they scored on us, we had a little bit of energy to come back," said Genee, who finished with three goals. "We wanted to end the game with a good feeling and have good momentum for the playoffs."
"We hope we can make it to the NCAAs again," Eggens said. "It would be great for the six seniors."
One of them is Eggens' sister Carmen. Also finishing their home careers for Hawaii last night were Sara Gralitzer, Leonie Van Der Molen, Saara Majuri and Dagmar Genee.